Mission statement

A buzz word that is on the street is “mission statement”. When you first think of that word, you think of it as a business terminology, which it is. According to “Wikipedia” “A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company or organization. The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making.”[1] There are even groups out there saying that everyone should have a mission statement, whether in their own life, career, or ministry. I have to say, it seems a little weird to “create” a mission statement for my own life, but I see the value in it. A mission statement gives direction to your intended goal. If you do not have any goals, it doesn’t matter what direction you go; but if you have “end goals” you know what direction to direct your energies. 
Today I “stumbled” upon a verse, and the first thing I thought of was, “This is a clear mission statement given directly from Jesus’ mouth. Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Now I have read this multiple times and never really caught this. When you accept Christ as your personal savior, the Holy Spirit is indwelt within you to help you. With the Holy Spirit indwelt in you and helping you, Jesus says, “you will be my witnesses”. You might be asking, “What is a witness?” According to Mr. Webster, a witness is “someone who testifies of a fact or event, or one who has personal knowledge of something.”[2]  The disciples were told to tell others what they personally know about or what they saw. The disciples saw the many miracles in Jesus’ life, and that he was put death, buried in a tomb (proof of the death), and was resurrected on the third day.  They personally knew that he was God’s son (Matt. 3:16-17).  Now the disciples were told to tell others what they know and saw about Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection; starting where they were at (in Jerusalem) and to go out from there (to Judea, Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth).
Just to shake things up a little, the word “witness” (martys) is where we get our word “martyr” from. I liked how the Frigburg lexicon defined martys: “as one who tells what he believes, even though it results in his being killed for it.” Remember, Jesus told his disciples that they will be empowered with the Holy Spirit to proceed with this new mission, because He knew in their own power, they would be fearful of telling others, but when they are empowered by the Holy Spirit, they will be bold witnesses for Jesus. 
This same thing is what Jesus wants from us.
Now we were not there to see Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, or the works in his life first hand, but we have a reliable resource (the bible) that tells us these truths. Having the bible, we know what is true and like the disciples, we need to tell others what we know about Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. 
I know that a time or two (okay many more times than that) I have been afraid to tell others about Jesus and maybe, so have you. But I encourage you to let the fear melt away, because the Holy Spirit is with you; helping you and empowering you. Starting were you are at (your Jerusalem), tell others what you know about Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. 
Take this mission statement seriously!
Jesus said, “be my witnesses” and you might be one who turns this world “upside down.”
Acts 17:6…“These men who have turned the “WORLD UPSIDE DOWN” have come here also, 

Prayer Tips

Prayer is one of the toughest disciplines for me. I found this helpful guide for prayer in the booklet “Jesus’ blueprint for prayer” by Haddon Robinson. Maybe, you will find it as helpful for you in your prayer life.

Haddon uses the Lords prayer and breaks in to two halves. The first half of the prayer talks about praying about the “Father”.

  • The “person” of God: “Your name”….Praise his attributes. He is holy, good, just, all-powerful, all-knowing,…
  • The “program” of God: “Your kingdom”…Pray for his work to be done.
  • The “purpose” of God: “Your will”…Pray for his will to be done for his glory.

The second half of prayer talks about praying for the family of God.

  •  Pray for the “provision” of the family of God: “Give us”…asking for basic needs for you and your friends and family.
  • Pray for “pardon” of your sins:  “forgive us” First John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • Pray for “protection”: “lead us”..If needed, pray for protection for you or your family.

 Matthew 6:9-13   
9 “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  
10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’

Who is Jesus: in the Gospel of John

In the gospel of John, Jesus is seen as the eternal, incarnate God who came to reveal the Father to a lost world. This book links back to Genesis 1:1, showing Jesus’ deity as creator of everything. Only God can create things. He is also seen as the Word (logos). The powerful spoken word is what was used to create everything. Through Him only is everlasting life. Also He compares and contrasts himself with light and darkness, because He was a great light in a dark time in history.

Serving Others

In Mark ten, James and John came up to Jesus and asked to sit in a high ranking position in heaven. The other ten disciples were indignant at James and John for asking such a thing. The word used ‘indignant’ shows that they were angry because they thought them two were unworthy of that position. I am sure they were thinking about when Jesus said, “ask, seek, knock.” Jealousy was probably in their hearts thinking that they missed out of a great privilege because they did not ask first. Jesus calls them all to his side and reminds them about the Gentiles who think that they should be masters over other people (v. 42). In contrast, Jesus says “it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (v. 43 nasb). A servant is one who voluntarily takes an inferior position in order to meet the needs of others. Jesus goes on to say that”whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all (v. 45 nasb). All of the disciples were seeking greatness, but to get it they must be willing to be a slave to everyone. The proper interpretation of slave here is to be a “bondservant”. A bondservant is one who willingly sells himself in to slavery to another. A slave is forced to do work for his master, whereas a bondservant has willingly chosen to serve to his master.

As our example, Jesus did not come to be waited upon, but to serve. He was willing to perform certain duties which were humble in nature (i.e. wash disciples feet). Also, He came to be a “ransom for many”. A “ransom” is a means of release or the price from slavery. Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross.

Before we were saved, we were a slave to sin. Sin was our master, as we continually followed its control. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are a new creation, who is free from the slavery of sin, and he is now alive in Christ (Rom 6; 2 Cor 5:17). We are no longer a slave, but we should take the humble position as a bondservant who willingly chooses to follow his new master; Jesus Christ. As a bondservant, we should be looking for opportunities to serve others, so through that service the unsaved will see Jesus Christ in us.

Are you serving others?

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Good Shepherd

Jesus announced that he is the Good Shepherd. He describes how the Good Shepherd would die for the sheep because of the love He has for them, in contrast to the hired hand that would flee because he does not care about the sheep. “The hired man looks like a shepherd and sometimes even acts like a shepherd. But in times of danger, he cannot be relied upon. There is no protection or security for God’s flock apart from the protective presence of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who loves the sheep.” 1 Jesus is the Good Shepherd that loves and cares for us. He came so people could have life more abundantly, by giving them a hope and a future because of the eternal life that can only come through Him.

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 190.

True Love

One of the most basic words used for Valentine’s Day is “love”. A simple word; it seems, but unfortunately a very confusing word. After all, look at the many different ways we use it in English. We say, “I love ice cream; I love my girlfriend/ boyfriend/ spouse; I love football; I love my Mother; I love God.” Each of these phrases is a different use of the word “love.”

How do we reach its deepest meaning?
The Bible tells us that God’s love has been poured out upon us (Rom 5:5). While we were yet sinners, God demonstrated how he loved the world by sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ loves us so much that He died on the cross to save us from our sins. He first loved us: unconditionally, even if we do not love Him in return. This is the essence of true love: unconditional self-giving. We give ourselves away for the other person, even if it means (and especially when it means) sacrifice and suffering for us. The greatest symbol of love is not the heart; it is the cross!
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Remember three things:

1) The picture above with the guy dressed like cupid was wrong (funny, but wrong) lol.

2)True love has no conditions. If someone says they love you, but expect something in return. They are not showing true love, but rather selfishness.

3) Jesus showed unconditional love by giving himself for the benefit of others. True love looks out for the other person, not for self.

Camel’s Knees

I was doing some reading up on Jesus’ half-brother, James. James thought his big brother was crazy, because he went to stop Jesus from teaching (John 7:5). It doesn’t seem that he became a Christian until after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him (1Cor 15:7). He later became a leader in the church of Jerusalem (Gal 2:9). He was later called “the righteous (just) one” and it was said that “his knees grew hard like a camel’s because of his constant worship of God, kneeling and asking forgiveness for his people” (Eusebius, Church History, 2:23). (Camels are known for there thick leathery patches on their knees) I thought that I would share what I just found out. It was a little convicting looking at my non-camel like knees.

Fork in the road

News about Solomon’s wisdom and his kingdom seemed to travel quickly to other countries. It is interesting how Queen Sheba traveled with her army to speak to Solomon, just because she had heard about his kingdom and his wisdom. She came to test him and/or to give him hard riddles to answer. After all of her attempts, she was speechless because he was able to answer all of her questions. Through out her encounter, I am sure that Solomon gave credit to God for his wisdom. This probably brought up more questions about God in general. I might be reading into the story a little, but I would bet that every question she had about God was probably answered. As she left Solomon’s kingdom, she was left at a fork in the road spiritually. Should she accept this God or should she continue down her road of serving her god(s) or maybe no god.

The same should be true with us, as we meet people in our everyday lives, we should be a ‘fork in the road’ to people spiritually. They need to hear about Christ and be left with a decision: “Should I accept Christ or do I reject him”. We need to be ready to give a defense about our faith (see 1 Peter 3:15). I have found that many non-Christians have one or two questions about God that trouble them. Well meaning Christians in their past could not answer these questions for them. Usually, once those questions are answered, man-made walls are knocked down and they are left with a decision, “What do I do with Jesus?” There are some that use these questions as a way to heckle Christians, because they have seen that most can not answer them, but there are some that need that wall knocked down so they are able to believe. So hopefully as we live our lives we can be a “fork in the road”, so people will be left with a choice about Christ: Should I accept him or do I reject him?

How about you. Have you accepted him or rejected him?

1 Corinthians 15:1-6 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;

1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

The Argument of the book of Romans: Salvation–justification

Since man was in rebellion against God, God reached out to man and provided salvation for him. Only God can provide the righteousness needed to obtain a right standing with a holy God. This righteousness is obtained through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, and man receives this righteousness through faith. This faith does not cancel out the Law, rather it satisfies the legal requirements of it (Romans 3:31).

Faith justification is the only kind possible because it removes any natural advantages (3:27–31). This is not a new teaching, because the Old Testament even teaches faith justification. Abraham was not justified by his works (4:1–8), or by circumcision (4:9–12), or even by the Law (4:13–17). One can only be justified by faith, just as Abraham was (4:1–17).

Justification has many benefits (5:1–11). The one who is justified now has peace with God and a hope in God. Also, he now has a right standing before God (5:1–2). The one who is justified can boast in many things (5:2-11). He can boast in the hope of God’s glory. He can also boast in troubles, because those troubles will bring about perseverance, proven character, and hope (5:3–5). Since God demonstrated his love to a world that was in rebellion against him by sending his unique Son to die for the ungodly (5:6–10), the justified can boast in God, because he is now in a right relationship with God (5:11). Thankfully, since God sent his Son, man’s sin problem is now solved (5:12–21).

Came just for you

It is amazing to think that the one man who lived the perfect life on this earth was rejected by everyone. He was least worthy of the abuse that he received but suffered more than any of us. He was whipped to the point of massive bleeding and experienced the ripping of the flesh. It was done to the point that internals, like muscles and maybe even organs could have been seen. The scourging alone would have been bad enough, but there was also ridicule and taunting from the crowds and soldiers. He was spit upon, punched, and stripped of his clothing. Placed upon his head was a thorny crown and a robe was placed on his flesh torn back, then soldiers bowed before him mockingly yelling, “Hail, King of the Jews!” By this point, Jesus would have been totally without enough strength to yet alone walk but they made him carry his own cross to Calvary. He was betrayed and abandoned by his friends on this earth. Through all of this, he did not defend himself or send for help, even though he had he had the authority to and the power to get help or to stop them. He did not stop them because he was willing to do the will of His Father.

Once he made it to the cross, this is where the long-term torture started. He had nails drove through his hands and feet into the cross, and then the cross was lifted up and dropped into a hole. As his arms were spread out on the cross, it would make it hard to breathe. To breathe, he would have to stand up which would put extreme pain through the nails in his feet and all of the torn muscles in the back would have to be used. The average person on the cross would slowly and painfully die from exhaustion and suffocation.

The sad thing is the fact that these “religious people” seen with their own eyes God in the flesh, but instead of worshiping him they wanted to torture and kill him. As we approach the Christmas season, let us not forget the reason for our celebration. Our Immanuel (with us is God) came to redeem lost man-kind. He experienced the cruelest and most humiliating death. He was buried (proof of the death), and he was raised from the grave on the third day. This is a historical fact with multiple witnesses that cannot be denied. Today, Jesus is no longer the “little babe in the straw”, but is now sitting on the right hand of God. He is there with glory interceding for the saints and performing his role as the Head of the Church, until his soon return. (Romans 8:34, Colossians 1:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:15)

“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He (Jesus), having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.”(Hebrews 10:11-13 nasb)